Since the early days, Jerry Lewis – in the line of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel – had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humor. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in, resulting in such adored classics as “The Bellboy,” “The Ladies Man,” “The Errand Boy” and “The Nutty Professor.”
By becoming a “total filmmaker,” Lewis surpassed expectations as a comic performer and emerged as a driving force in Hollywood. He broke boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice and keen visual eye, even garnering respect and praise overseas. However, American critics and the cultural elite tended to reject his abrasive art. While they viewed Lewis as nothing more than just a clown, others like the French recognized him as a true “auteur,” giving birth to questions that have perplexed American pop culture for over 50 years: Why do Europeans love Jerry Lewis? What is this inexpliquable aversion Americans have towards him? Is he just a brash, anything-for-yuk buffoon? Or is he a creative genius? Who is the man behind the clown?
Celebrating his 90th year, Jerry Lewis candidly reflects back on his remarkable life and decades-long career, from his legendary partnership with crooner Dean Martin, to his incredible rise to Beatles-like fame, to his great love affair with filmmaking…
Blending archival footage, photos throughout Lewis’s life and extracts from his most notable films, director Gregory Monro invites audiences to rediscover Jerry Lewis with never-before-interviewed friends, filmmakers and critics such as Sean Hayes, Pierre Etaix, Tony Lewis, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Martin Scorsese, who give an insightful view to his brilliant, yet deeply-conflicted persona, as well as his influential mark on the world as a comic, a filmmaker, a humanitarian and a visionary.
Genre: Art & Culture, Biography, Documentary
Director: Gregory Monro
Producers: French Connection Films, Arte France, INA, Lowlands Media, Inkwell Films
Length: 60 minutes / 52 minutes
Languages: English, French
Partners: The French Film Board (CNC), Cine+, Avrotros, SNRT Morocco, Procirep & Angoa
Broadcasters: Arte France, Avrotros, SNRT Morocco, Cine+